The ability to concentrate is essential for the successful completion of any task, but staying focused can sometimes be a challenge due to distractions, mental or physical fatigue, anxiety, and lack of sleep. If you find that you often have trouble concentrating, nootropics might just be the answer you’re looking for.
By affecting the production and balance of chemicals in our brain called neurotransmitters, nootropics increase the brain’s capacity to concentrate, learn and focus.
What are nootropics?
Often when drugs are developed to treat certain health conditions, researchers discover that they have other properties that make them well-suited for other purposes too and the drug can be used ‘off label’ for other reasons.
Nootropics are drugs that were originally developed to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy, but their properties mean that they make ideal ‘smart drugs’, which are used to boost focus, concentration, and learning capacity.
When taken as a supplement, nootropics can enhance cognitive ability. They are known to boost memory and concentration, and so they are popular among students when they are studying for exams, and even when they want to boost their energy for partying.
Some other drugs that have similar effects can cause negative side effects if they are used for a long period of time or if they are abused, but generally, nootropics are safe, they can have a protective effect on the brain, and there are little or no side effects associated with use.
Many nootropics work in a similar way to each other. They increase the communication between neurons in the brain, promote healthy brain cells, and balance the levels of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain. Neurotransmitters control mood, focus, concentration, and energy so it is important that they are working as well as they should in the brain.
All about nootropics
The first ever nootropic, Piracetam, was invented in 1963 by Belgian pharmacologists. They found that the active compound boosted cognitive ability but was it not toxic and did not produce side effects, unlike other brain stimulants.
Piracetam is one of the best-known nootropics and is part of the Racetam family along with Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Pramiracetam, Oxiracetam, Nefiracetam, Coluracetam and Nebracetam. These are all synthetic compounds made in a lab, but there are also several effective herbal and natural nootropic supplements available.
Nootropics work by increasing the levels and signalling ability of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain, and when they can send their signals more efficiently, overall concentration is better, mood is better, and the user has a better attention span, and more capacity for mental work. Eventually, nootropics cause an improvement to the health and functioning of your brain as well.
Some nootropics are vasodilators, which means they increase the blood flow to your brain. This supplies the brain with more oxygen, nutrients, and glucose, which it needs when you need to focus for long periods.
The brain requires a large amount of energy to function at its best, to sustain consciousness and to remain focused. It uses 20% of your energy expenditure, despite making up only 5% of your total body weight.
When you are performing mental work, and having to stay focused and alert, this uses up a lot of energy. By improving brain circulation, and the flow of oxygen to the brain, you will notice that your memory and focus is better, and that you are able to sustain concentration for longer periods.
Some natural nootropics supply the brain cells with energy, and they are popular, as they act on the brain immediately. These include L-Carnitine, Caffeine, Creatine, and Ginkgo Biloba. These can create feelings of being jittery however, unlike nootropics.
Nootropics can also help to protect the brain against the effects of age-related degeneration. They can stimulate the growth of new neurons, which could prevent disorders like Alzheimer’s disease from developing. This is big news at a time when people are living longer than ever and scientists are trying to halt the rise in neurodegenerative diseases.
What are nootropics prescribed for?
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition which presents with behavioural symptoms such as the inability to pay attention and focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood, and symptoms tend to become more noticeable when a child has to interact with others under different circumstances and in different settings, such as when they start school. Most cases of ADHD are diagnosed in children between 6 and 12 years old. Symptoms can become less pronounced as people get older, though adults can continue to experience problems like anxiety and sleep disorders. Adults are not generally diagnosed with ADHD, and if they are, it is likely they have had it since childhood and it has been misdiagnosed as something else. Unfortunately, ADHD is often misdiagnosed.
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